Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Rays Of Light

     Inasmuch as this is an opinion blog operated by an opinionated writer, its Gentle Readers should not be surprised to encounter...opinions. Some of them are strong. Others are tentative, conditional, perhaps even hesitant. Now and then an opinion will even be revisited – and perhaps revised. But in no case should the opinions the readers of Liberty’s Torch find here be taken as Holy Writ.

     We can be wrong. I’m sure we often are. I know I am.

     For example, at one time I held that the proper treatment of immigration was to throw the doors wide open: “If they want to be Americans, let ‘em come – but first dismantle the welfare state.” Today I regard that opinion as naive, badly misinformed. At the time I had no knowledge of the exclaves problem that’s steadily reducing much of the country to foreign, even lawless territory. As I learned better, my opinion changed.

     That is as it should be. An intellectually honest man revises his convictions as he improves his awareness of the facts. He doesn’t reject verifiable facts simply because they clash with his expressed opinions. That many persons do reject facts they find inconvenient is a measure of our contemporary sociopolitical malady.

     One topic in particular has had me going around in circles for awhile. I’ve featured it in my recent fiction. Today I’m going to use that topic to give you a glimpse of the mental processes that beleaguer an opinionated man who has resolved, often with considerable anguish, to remain intellectually honest.

     First, a somewhat lengthy snippet from my most recent novel:

     Ray had only just donned his stole and murmured a prayer for God’s guidance when a penitent entered the face-to-face booth and knelt. He donned a formally grave expression, looked up at his visitor, and swallowed an oath.
     “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen,” Holly Martinowski intoned. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” She smiled wanly. “I’m not really sure how long it’s been since my last confession. More than fifteen years, anyway.”
     “Bless you, Holly,” Ray said. “May the Lord be in your heart and help you to confess your sins sincerely and with true contrition. What are your sins, dear?”
     “Father,” she said in a gradually strengthening voice, “I’ve been bitter and resentful. I estranged myself from my parents because they mocked me as I was and could not accept me as I am today. My bitterness has led me to resent them and wish them ill, even though none of them ever did me any injustice that went beyond a few harsh words.
     “And I may have been less than honest. Since I endeavored to transition, I’ve let everyone I met believe that I’m female. I know I have only the appearance and not the essence. I know that no surgery could make me other than cosmetically female. But I’ve chosen to live as a woman, rather than as the pitifully unmanly man I would otherwise have been. And I am happy this way. I don’t regard my masquerade as a sin, though not being candid about my origins might strike you as sinful.”
     She bowed her head over her folded hands.
     “Other than that, I’ve missed a lot of Sunday Masses. But I have not worshipped any other god. I have not blasphemed. I have not made any idols. I haven’t killed or harmed anyone, or committed adultery, or theft or fraud. I haven’t borne false witness against others. I’ve envied naturally born women their state, but only in a wistful way. And I’ve tried most sincerely, Father, to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I love God and delight in all His works. I strive to love my neighbor as myself. And with that I subject myself to your judgment and to the mercy of God.”
     Ray was momentarily thrown out of his orbit.
     “Have you examined your conscience closely, Holly?”
     “I have, Father.”
     “And you find no other blemishes there?”
     “I have confessed all that I’ve found, Father.”
     “You don’t think it a deception to wear a female guise?”
     “I wear it for its own sake, Father. I don’t use it to deceive or defraud others. I never have.”
     “And you never will, dear?”
     That brought Holly’s head back up.
     “Only God can know the future, Father. But it’s not my intention ever to do so. What could I gain that I couldn’t get some other way?”
     Ray breathed deeply and strove to steady himself.
     “It’s not the gain or loss that matters but the intention, dear. Are you firm in your resolve?”
     “I am, Father.”
     “And truly sorry for your sins?”
     “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishment, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and worthy of all my love. I humbly resolve with the help of Thy Grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.”
     He grinned despite himself. “You boned up before you came here, didn’t you?”
     She returned the grin. “A little cramming is acceptable before an exam, isn’t it, Father?”
     He chuckled. “Let’s hope so, dear, because it was one of my most regular practices back in seminary. Your penance is five Our Fathers, five Hail Marys, and five Glory Bes interleaved, to be performed in a spirit of contrition immediately upon leaving the confessional. Go to the front of the church and kneel at the old communion rail. Look upon the Presence lamp as you pray, and give thanks for the love and mercy of God.”
     “I shall, Father.”
     He raised his right hand. “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace. I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
     “Amen,” she whispered.
     “Now go and sin no more.”
     She exited the confessional.

     I don’t think I need to explicate the above. But please do reflect on Holly’s candor about “wearing a female guise.” Ponder whether doing so is an offense against God – your conception of God and His Will – before proceeding to the next segment.

     Today at Cold Fury, Mike Hendrix posts a remarkable, inspiring letter he received from an unnamed transwoman:

     I am post-op transsexual. Thirty-one years ago I began transition when society was not friendly to us in any way. I had surgery 5 years later. I have been, and am, extremely happy.

     I have over the years met many that have transitioned. I knew two people back before my surgery that physically assaulted me because I told them in no uncertain terms they were NOT good candidates for surgery. Both went around the system, went overseas with false docs, and got surgery. Both committed suicide within six months. People ARE sometimes very delusional and surgery is not the fix.

     Surgery is supposed to be anti-climatic (to phrase it). It should be the cherry on top of the already done sundae. I never abused drugs or alcohol. My therapist was extremely happy that my transition was smooth. I didn’t at the beginning, but did later have the support of my parents. During transition, I got my degree, got a good job, supported myself and had an active social life. Surgery only added the intimacy issue later.

     I was born male, I will die male. Biology doesn’t change. However, my identity is now congruent with my outward appearance. Those secondary sexual characteristics that doctors rely upon at birth to categorize us, are now consistent with the brain that developed. I am a woman and have been for longer than I was a boy/man.

     There’s an example of true intellectual honesty. The writer accepts the immutability of biological sex. That she’s chosen to live as a woman, and is happy about it, has not deluded her in the way it has so many others. Who if anyone is harmed by her decision to assume, if only cosmetically, the female guise?

     To encounter that sort of candor, married to that degree of realism, is inherently inspiring.

     Time was, I was of the opinion – strongly expressed, at that – that the transgender phenomenon should not and must not be politically or socially tolerated. Indeed, one of my original motives for writing the stories in this collection was to pose the problems of humans who are genetically female, but resemble pre-op transwomen anatomically and have no choice in the matter, against those of the willfully transgendered.

     Then I made a couple of transgendered acquaintances. Both struck me as exceptionally intelligent and well balanced. Indeed, one has become a long-distance friend. And both are candid that while they live as women, they acknowledge that biologically they are male and always will be.

     Their transitions didn't change their sex; they improved their emotional well-being. It was the one and only treatment that would do so. Gender dysphoria is like that.

     Perhaps I should have written “Gender dysphoria is like that today.” No one knows what the future holds. But we live in the present.

     I’m currently at work on a new novel whose working title is The Wise and the Mad. As with all my crap, it’s thematically powered. The theme is the overriding question of our time:

What is tolerable?
What isn’t?
How do we distinguish between them?

     It is my opinion – yes, it’s strongly held – that it is the moral-ethical duty of a man of good will to tolerate what is tolerable, but not to tolerate what is not. Discriminating the former from the latter is the trick...though it shouldn’t be. The problem is the immense amount of, please pardon my Belgian, utter and complete horseshit afloat in our national discourse.

     My esteemed Co-Conspirator Dystopic – yes, he goes by Thales over at his place — wrote recently:

     I’ve discussed many times how Progressives use guilt and Weaponized Empathy to shame people into supporting their agendas. How does this find purchase in the minds of normies, however? The answer to that is found in one of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals:
     4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

     Buried in this rule is an implicit assumption: every rule must be obeyed perfectly and completely. If a person fails to live up to the rule, he is shamed and made to feel guilty for his failure. As Alinsky tells us, no rule can be obeyed to this level.

     Upon which I commented:

     At the core of the weaponized-empathy tactic is an assumption that’s seldom articulated, mainly because it’s been insinuated into our subconsciouses. It’s an evil assumption, to be sure, yet even most persons who confront it openly tend to bow to it.

     The assumption is this: You are not permitted your own standards. We, the Left, will set them, and you are required to meet them.

     Couldn’t get much more demented, could it? But a moment’s thought about why weaponized empathy works — when it works, that is — is that the notion that we must meet a standard of perfection set by someone else’s decree embeds a sub-assumption: that the responsibility for others’ ills lies on our shoulders whether we like it or not. And that assumption is reinforced hourly by agencies and institutions of many kinds, all of which ceaselessly remind us that there are others less happy, less well to do, and less secure than we are, always with the subtext What are you going to do about it?

     That’s our cultural context: If someone is unhappy, remediation is your responsibility. Moreover, no matter how thoroughly he might be “happied” through your efforts, you are never, ever off the hook – and the hook keeps changing in size, shape, color, and spatial and temporal extent.

     Standards without a moral basis.
     Standards deliberately kept unstable.
     Standards that don’t bind those who proclaim them!

     Great God in heaven! As I said: utter and complete horseshit. An average third-grader could debunk the whole fecal notion from first why hasn’t it happened yet?

     Perhaps we should ask Jim Acosta.

     This piece isn’t about transgenderism, really. It’s about good sense: knowing what is tolerable and knowing what isn’t. I could have invoked many other contemporary issues to the same effect. I chose this one because of what I’ve been writing about fictionally. Those stories have touched a lot of nerves.

     My fictional futanari have no choice about what they are. They must be tolerated.

     Holly, the transwoman in the cited passage from Experiences, harms no one, defrauds no one, supports herself, and meets all her obligations by herself. She, and transwomen like her who demand neither special concessions nor accommodations from the rest of us, is tolerable – and must be tolerated.

     But they who, for whatever reason, proclaim rules to which the rest of us must conform, who demand that we accommodate them in unbounded ways and to our overall detriment, and who also reserve the right to change the rules at their own discretion, cannot be tolerated and must not be.

     The theme is freedom: individual freedom, which is necessarily coupled to individual responsibility for one’s own burdens, choices, and the consequences of those choices. Such a responsibility cannot be imperiously imposed upon others, whether specifically named or “society.” Every attempt in that direction must be rebuffed, as harshly as necessary.

     It’s the ray of light that would dispel the sociopolitical gloom that has gathered around us. Mike Hendrix’s correspondent knows it. Perhaps it’s time the rest of us took note.


Amy Bowersox said...

As lucid as ever, Fran. :)

I agree with Mike Hendrix's correspondent. Whatever's in my chromosomes--and I don't know what's in there, but can make a good guess--can't be altered by any therapy known to man, or even projected. In that sense, I can never be "truly" female. But can I get so close to that state that people can't tell the difference? I'm fairly certain I can...and there are many who would support the assertion that I have.

But I didn't do this just for the privileges of wearing pretty dresses, being called "ma'am," and having gentlemen hold doors open for me. I believe that, for whatever reason, there was always a feminine spirit within this body, despite its circumstances of birth...and, by altering that body and its presentation to match that spirit, I have set "her" free, and I have been rewarded with greater happiness. Among other things, I am less socially isolated than I was in male guise. (Heavens, I dance and lipsync while people tip me, said tips going to charity..."he" would never have entertained the prospect of doing such. But I enjoy performing.)

I'm still undecided about "the surgery," although I can't help wondering what it would be like whenever I hear about another one of my sisters who has had hers. But it's a decision that shouldn't be made lightly, by any means...and I'm in no hurry to make up my mind.

Tracy Coyle said...

New reader, of the books and this blog: Excellent post.